Posts tagged ‘camping’

October 2, 2014

don’t forget your FLASHLIGHT

by Wendy Lawrence

This book made me wish it was nighttime and I was camping. Well, actually, I usually wish I was camping. But just flip through a couple of pages of this wordless, black-yet-bright, night-inspired picture book and see if you don’t find yourself waiting for the sun to go down.

My kids are going to love this book. And as soon as it’s done they are going to look for their flashlights. The nighttime images are gorgeous, and the beam of light that finds bats, owls, sticks, and apples, is perfect. Even without words, the book manages to be funny. The boy trips at one point and finds the beam illuminating him–with a raccoon on the other end!

flashlightTitle: Flashlight
Author/Illustrator: Lizi Boyd (or do I only write “illustrator” since there are no words??)
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 2 – 7

November 4, 2011

autumn winifred oliver (and I) do things different

I worked at a National Park one summer in college. I made $50 a month. Seriously. But they gave me a house to live in, so that was something. I had the best commute to work. It took about 15 minutes by bike and I didn’t have to pedal once–I just pushed off and felt the wind caressing my torso as I flew around the corners, watching the trees. (Of course, the corresponding commute home, which took me over an hour, was less good, but definitely great exercise!)

Right after he proposed, with the shells the ring was in, and right before we had to scramble over the headlands because we waited too long and the tide was coming in

I’ve always had a soft spot for National Parks. Olympic, where I worked, where I learned to backpack on my days off by taking onesolo trip after another, is my favorite. Of course, it also might be my favorite because that’s where I got engaged. (It was a trick my city-dwelling husband used to make me think he would go backpacking with me after we got married.) ūüôā

But now that I live in beautiful Tennessee, I’ve been enjoying a new park recently, the most-visited park in the country, the gorgeous Smoky Mountains. As a modern visitor, when I go to a park, I think about how grateful I am that we have all this quietness, all this beauty, just sitting there, waiting to be appreciated.

So when I saw this book and what it was about, I jumped at the chance to read it. And I’m glad I did.

Title: Autumn Winifred Oliver does things different
Author:¬†Kristin O’Donnell Tubb
Genre:¬†Historical Fiction (but don’t let that scare you!!)
Age: Middle Grade

Review and Summary:¬†Autumn Winifred Oliver is a wonderful girl with a strong voice and a strong sense of self. You meet her and get a great sense of her right away in chapter one, which begins: “I do things different. It helps to remind yourself of that when you’re attending your own funeral.” Each chapter begins with a piece like this “I do things different. It helps to remind yourself of that…” which gives you a sneak peek at what’s coming without giving anything away. If anything, these little snippets add suspense by making you wonder what they could possibly mean. Autumn lives in Cades Cove, a community that is about to become a national park. Autumn doesn’t know what to make it it all–the government people looking at her land, her grandfather snooping around, her father moving to the city to find new work, the possibility of losing her house and her community forever.

I love that the story feels universal–it’s about the way every girl this age often feels powerless over the bigger things in her life and how she comes to deal with them. The book gives you a sense of time and history without it feeling like a history lesson–it’s just a great book with wonderful detail. (I hate that I am apologizing for it being historical fiction, but I feel like some readers need an extra incentive to pick up an historical book. Trust me–I, too, used to be a reluctant reader of historical fiction, but after all the great ones I’ve read recently (this one, Moon Over Manifest, and Al Capone Shines My Shoes) I now swear to pick them up with excitement!

Follow-up with the kids:

There’s a lot you can do with this book. If you really want to make a history conversation out of it, there’s plenty of material there. There’s a short part in the book where Autumn realizes that what is happening to her already happened to the Native Americans who used to live on the land and were kicked off. It’s a good way to remind kids about the power of history, the lessons we can learn, the constant battles between those with power and those without, and the ways in which different people seem to treat each other.

But you can also just talk about Autumn. How does she deal with change? What things does she do that are positive? What is negative? Ask your child what she would have done. Chances are, the answers might tell you a little bit about what your child has done when they’ve felt like they were losing something. Or what they might do in the future.

I loved reading this book. I laughed out loud and thoroughly enjoyed getting to share the world of these characters, if only for a little bit.

April 12, 2011

if you chase it, it might chase you back

This book is a portal. ¬†I opened its page and was instantly transformed. ¬†So transformed, I was confused. ¬†Was I the reader or the main character? ¬†Was I on my couch, breast-feeding one son and patting the other, Sesame Street blaring in the background and the book balanced on my lap? ¬†Or was I walking an ancient trail, uncovering its stones and its secrets one by one, finding a path as I found myself and my family along the way? ¬†Or maybe I was the writer? ¬†Did I write this book? ¬†Conceive of its characters? ¬†I feel I know them so well that I might have. ¬†I can’t really say. ¬†I loved this book!

All I know is that this book drew me in so deeply I can’t decide if I should ride this wave of bibliophilism (wow! that is totally a word!) and pick up another book immediately (preferably one by Sharon Creech) or just call it quits when I’m ahead and never read another book again. ¬†Not sure yet, but in the meantime, I’ll write one (last?) blog entry.

Title: Chasing Redbird
Author: Sharon Creech
Genre: Fiction
Age: Middle School

Summary and Review:

Zinny is the quiet daughter in a large family, the one who listens to her sisters’ gossip at night in their too-crowded, shared bedroom, the one who collects bottlecaps and rocks, who spends more time with her aunt and uncle next door than her mom and dad in her own busy house. ¬†She is an honest character, so true to her age and the human race that it seems Sharon Creech must have studied the very souls of her readers before she typed these words.

There are so many things about Zinny that I love, but mostly it is her honest confusion about life that gets at my heart. ¬†Some of us (a rare few of us) will admit to being confused about the meaning of life. ¬†But I’ve never heard anyone express out loud the ways that confusion can take hold on a daily level. ¬†I love that Zinny admits to being afraid at times that she isn’t who she thinks she is. ¬†That she is actually someone else, and that the real Zinny is dead, or the real Zinny is off somewhere and she is merely watching her. ¬†I love that Zinny admits to being afraid of the “hand of God” and thinks that God has challenged her personally in peculiar, creative ways. ¬†I love that Zinny admits to searching for a relative she knows has passed away, and I love that she finds her. ¬†I love that Zinny is scared of the attention from a boy and of her own feelings. ¬†I love the way Zinny learns about herself and her family, as if piecing together a mysterious puzzle, something that allows her to really understand some of the important things about being a daughter, a niece, a sister, and a girlfriend–none of which she truly attains until she first understands some things about being herself. ¬†And I love, very much, the dichotomy in Zinny–how she feels so powerful that she believes she might have singlehandedly caused more than one death, but at the same time so useless that no boy could possibly ever like her. ¬†If that isn’t growing up, then what is?

When Zinny starts to unravel the mysteries and dig up the stones of an old, historic trail near her farm in Kentucky, she takes her first step from being “one of those Taylor kids” to being “the one who’s digging up the trail.” ¬†That transformation, from an overgrown past to a well-used walkway, from an unknown girl to a girl who knows herself well enough to like herself, is the story in this remarkable book.

Follow-up with the kids:

Zinny’s thoughts and feelings will resonate with a lot of kids in the midst of the turmoil of growing up and trying on a new identity. ¬†Of course, if you are their parent, they probably won’t talk with you about it. ¬†But that’s the brilliant thing about reading with your kids. ¬†Just ask them about Zinny. ¬†Why do you think Zinny felt that way? ¬†Why did she do this? ¬†That dichotomy of hopelessness and adolescence that I talked about above? ¬†What does your daughter think about that? ¬†You’ll hear some of her own feelings in her responses, and maybe you’ll learn what powers her own, personal dichotomy.

Now, you can start this conversation with the Jake/May issue because that might get them talking, but press further–what about Rose and Aunt Jessie and Uncle Nate? ¬†Zinny’s precious relationship with each of these people tells us so much about what it means to be a live “human bean” that you could talk about this through the night. ¬†And maybe you should. ¬†Get a tarp and two sleeping bags and head to the backyard…that would be the best place to do it. ¬†Under the stars. ¬†Near the birds.

Oh, and one more thing: Zinny had a trail.  What do you or your child have?  Is it a place to explore?  100 books to read?  a new cuisine to learn how to cook?  a new exercise regime to learn and stick to?  What can you uncover that might help you uncover you?